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A brief guide explaining what counts as a learning disability – including characteristics and who diagnoses a learning disability

If you are struggling to learn – whether in an educational environment or while completing day-to-day tasks – you might be wondering if you have a learning disability. And because learning disabilities are not only present from birth but develop after a variety of serious accidents or changes in your life, it is feasible that you have a learning disability that hasn’t always been there. In this brief guide, we explain what counts as a learning disability, including the characteristics of a learning disability and who diagnoses them.

The definition of a learning disability

According to the learning disability charity Mencap, a learning disability is defined as: “A reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example, household tasks, socialising, or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life” [1].

To continue reading credible information about learning disabilities, visit this official NHS webpage: Learning disabilities – NHS

What are the characteristics of a learning disability?

Characteristics of a learning disability include, but are not limited to, finding difficulty in:

Doing day-to-day tasks such as housework or errands
Taking care of yourself and your personal hygiene
Managing your time
Managing your money
Reading and/or writing
Solving basic maths problems
Processing information while talking to other people

Many of the attributes listed above can also be found in individuals with learning difficulties. To understand the difference, read our blog: “Learning Disability vs Learning Difficulty: What’s the Difference?”.

Who diagnoses a learning disability?

A GP (General Practitioner) usually diagnoses learning disabilities – either during pregnancy, soon after birth, or as an individual develops. Though, parents, carers, teachers, or others associated with your learning will likely notice some of the characteristics first. If you feel you are struggling with a learning disability and you would like to find out more before seeking support, you can book an appointment with your GP without the help of anybody else, if you are physically able.

If you would like to talk about your potential learning disability with people who really understand, Mencap has a Learning Disability Helpline that you can call anytime: Learning Disability Helpline 

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[1] What is a learning disability? | Mencap

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